HomeEntertainmentGregory Allen Howard, screenwriter of ‘Remember the Titans,’ dies at 70

Gregory Allen Howard, screenwriter of ‘Remember the Titans,’ dies at 70

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Gregory Allen Howard, a screenwriter who recounted tales of perseverance such because the soccer and racial drama “Keep in mind the Titans” and the biopic “Harriet” on the lifetime of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, died Jan. 27 in Miami. He was 70.

The dying was introduced by Mr. Howard’s publicist, Jeff Sanderson. No trigger was given or different particulars about the place Mr. Howard died.

Mr. Howard had story credit on movies and sequence exploring Black struggles and successes, together with “Ali” (2001) on the lifetime of boxer Muhammad Ali starring Will Smith and Jamie Foxx. Mr. Howard additionally taught a screenwriting course at Howard College as a visiting professor.

His breakthrough challenge, “Remember the Titans” (2000), started with a narrative he heard whereas again in his native Virginia: how Black and White gamers got here collectively on the T.C. Williams Excessive College soccer workforce in 1971 on their option to an undefeated season and state championship. The screenplay didn’t discover any takers till it was picked up by producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

The film, starring Denzel Washington and Will Patton, was a box-office hit and grossed greater than $130 million with its uplifting story of teammates and a city attempting to beat prejudice. (The college had built-in years earlier than, however 1971 introduced a consolidation within the faculty system that compelled extra variety.) After Los Angeles, a second premiere for the film in Washington was attended by President Invoice Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the workforce’s coaches and gamers.

However the movie’s feel-good message additionally confronted backlash for taking inventive liberties, resembling including characters and occasions, and failing to dig deeper into the systemic racial injustices on the time.

“I don’t assume ‘Keep in mind the Titans’ reveals the ugly fact, however I believe it’s a step,” actor Wood Harris, who performed defensive finish Julius Campbell within the movie, advised The Washington Submit in 2020. “It brings you into the dialogue, and now you may go go to the reality of issues.”

Mr. Howard turned a logo of tenacity in his personal proper with “Harriet,” which took greater than 25 years to go from script to display. Mr. Howard started work within the early Nineties on the script beneath a take care of Disney.

The challenge was then repeatedly sidelined in what Mr. Howard noticed as an unwillingness by Hollywood to take a monetary threat on the Tubman story. Mr. Howard claimed {that a} studio govt in 1994 urged Julia Roberts play Tubman. That story was by no means corroborated however was regularly retold by Mr. Howard in his accounts of the battles to search out allies for the screenplay.

“You’ll have thought after ‘Titans,’ that may have been a paradigm shift for the trade after which they’d say, ‘Hey, let’s begin doing various tales,’” Mr. Howard stated. “No, they didn’t. It was an outlier. I used to be an outlier.”

He contended that the “Harriet” screenplay solely started to achieve traction after the success of movies resembling “12 Years a Slave” (2013) and “Black Panther” (2018), and campaigns for better racial variety in Hollywood productions.

“Harriet” premiered in 2019, starring Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr., and directed by Kasi Lemmons, who shared screenwriting credit with Mr. Howard. Erivo acquired an Oscar nomination for her efficiency.

“What I notice now, looking back, is that I used to be asking the city to vary. In different phrases, I believed I used to be simply pushing one film about one little black girl,” Mr. Howard stated in a 2019 interview with Vox. “However I wasn’t — I used to be asking the trade to vary, and it wasn’t prepared to vary. It wasn’t able to be various. It wasn’t able to open itself as much as different voices.”

Gregory Allen Howard was born Jan. 28, 1952, in Norfolk, however moved regularly due to his stepfather’s assignments as a Navy chief petty officer.

Mr. Howard graduated in 1974 from Princeton College with a level in American historical past and labored briefly for Merrill Lynch on Wall Road earlier than transferring to Los Angeles to pursue a writing profession.

He was a part of the writing workforce on a number of TV reveals, together with the Fox sitcom “True Colours,” and wrote a stage play, “Tinseltown Trilogy,” that weaves collectively the tales of three males in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.

Survivors embrace a sister and brother; two nieces and a nephew.

“I received into this enterprise to put in writing in regards to the complexity of the Black man,” Mr. Howard stated in 2009. “I needed to put in writing about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Marcus Harvey. I believe it takes a Black man to put in writing about Black males.”

Supply: www.washingtonpost.com

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